Psycho-emotional and psychosomatic status test rates in boxing


PhD, Associate Professor M.E. Guzich1
PhD, Associate Professor I.P. Grekhova1
1Surgut State University, Surgut


Keywords: competitive performance, stress, psycho-emotional and psychosomatic status.


Introduction. The revival of the Olympic Games in the XX century has changed the social status of sport - it has become a social phenomenon. The new age, with its unfailing interest in elite sport that is constantly heightened by sports scandals, has brought elite sport to the status of nationwide movement. Nowadays, there are practically no people in civilized countries who would not cheer for their "homies" and analyze strange, from their point of view, failures and defeats.

These disappointing failures disturb athletes themselves even more, which is quite obvious, not to speak of sports officials. And that also makes sense: intensive development of professional sport and its commercialization, accompanied by a significant increase in the earnings of both athletes and sports organizations, an increase in the number of state and non-state structures responsible for the development of this sphere, and efficient utilization of considerable financial resources - all of this implies expectations of high and preferably stable results. Meanwhile, during competitions Russian athletes often demonstrate results that clearly do not correspond to their fitness level, that are much lower than those demonstrated during training.

This artefact, quite disagreeable in itself, which in addition assaulted the honour of the country when it came, let us say, to the Olympic Games, obviously demanded an explanation. Some athletes tried to place the responsibility for their defeat on luck, which at midpoint had begun to side with the opponent, but most athletes talked about other reasons. In particular, V. Fetisov, Head of the Federal Agency for Physical Education and Sports, said in an interview during the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing that the situation in the Russian national team developed in the first week of these competitions was a failure, it was due to mainly psychological reasons, in his opinion. "Nowadays, athletes are under intense pressure. Too much pomposity. Shortly before the Olympic Games, the government officials spent most of their time making loud statements. But that was an attention-grabbing stunt rather than something done for the good of the course..." [7]. The same psychological pressure was also mentioned by those athletes who had nothing to blame themselves for, for example, A. Davydova, three-time Olympic champion in synchronized swimming: "We literally felt additional responsibility with our skin, we knew that everyone expected us to win gold" (cit. ex 1]; three-time world champion in biathlon M. Chudov: "The one who is better mentally fit will win the Olympics" [9].

It is easy to see that even champions call for more attention to mental conditioning of athletes, and according to most American coaches, sport is at least 50% mental phenomenon, and such kinds of sport as golf, tennis, figure skating - 80-90% [6]. All the above actualizes the problem of studying mental states in athletes, primarily, their readiness for competitions, which, in fact, determines the performance efficiency rates in athletes, coaches, and the entire system of sports and sports-related structures. That is why every major competition is always an exciting or, as they say, stressful event for every athlete. Each participant feels that huge responsibility he bears, moreover, this responsibility is not only for himself or his teammates, but often for the country’s image. And everyone understands: no one will let him win "for nothing", which means that it is going to be an aggravated struggle. As researchers note, "sport is specific by the fact that full adaptation to loads and high fitness level of athletes cannot be reached without huge mental tension and stress. Such conditions are always the cause of severe distress, to which athletes are to adjust in the training process and especially during their competitive activities" [5]. Obviously, this is exactly why the study of the effects of stress on the psycho-emotional state of athletes and their sports activity as a whole has become one of the most important areas of sport psychology.

Objective of the study was to obtain psychosomatic status test rates under stresses typical for the modern competitive boxing sport.

Methods and structure of the study. In 2017 we pursued a study to obtain psychosomatic status test rates under stresses typical for boxing sport. Subject to the study were 30 boxers from different sports categories with at least 3 years of sports experience. They were split up into Experimental Group 1 (EG1, n=15) of athletes qualified for the seasonal ranking competitions; and Experimental Group 2 (EG2, n=15) composed of the boxers who failed to qualify for the seasonal ranking events. The study was designed to match both of the groups by the stress tolerance and psychosomatic performance rates.

Results and discussion. According to the stress tolerance rating scale [3], 87% of the EG1 subjects and 40% of the EG2 ones experience a high stress load. Stress tolerance in 6.5% of the EG1 boxers and 60% of the EG2 ones was at the threshold level, at which the athletes’ stress tolerance decreased with the increased stress, and they were close to burnout. It is noteworthy that only 6.5% of the EG1 respondents had a high level of stress tolerance (in the EG2 athletes this indicator was equal to 0). Therefore, disconcertingly, the athletes under study, irrespective of their actual involvement in the competitive process, spent most of their energy resources to cope with negative mental conditions caused by stresses. Obviously, this phenomenon is explained by the specifics of boxing, which implies an active interaction with a contender independently of participation in the top-ranking competitions, and as a result – it is not entirely clear how the situation will evolve in terms of a bout and unpredictability. In other words, the boxers of both EGs were exposed to the external uncertainty related stressors, which, according to V.E. Milman, "should be characteristic of such kinds of sport as team games and martial arts, where much depends on the actions of partners and opponents" [4].

At the same time, the significance of differences in the stress tolerance indices in two groups upon the Mann-Whitney criterion (U=0.021) suggests that the EG1 athletes factor in the top-ranking competitions also negatively affects the boxers’ mental state, increasing the level of stress they experience. Obviously, it is where the internal factors get involved being driven not only by the prestige of the competitions the EG1 athletes participate in, but also by the significant increase (as compared to the EG2 boxers) in the "risk and hazard elements" of their activity [4], as a natural consequence of the growing rank of the competitions in boxing.

Since this situation could not but affects the boxers’ psychosomatic status, we assessed the intensity of their psychosomatic maladies. The Giessen Complaint Questionnaire was applied to register individual complaints, a complex of complaints and make an integral estimation of their intensity [2].

The analysis of the intensity of psychosomatic maladies revealed that the symptoms of breakdown prevailed in the EG1 subjects: 47% of athletes indicated average intensity of psychosomatic complaints in terms of all 4 parameters, 12% indicated high intensity in terms of all parameters; 41% of the subjects did not complain of any maladies. The results of the study of psychosomatic symptoms in the EG2 were lower: 13% of the boxers complained of average-intensity psychosomatic states in terms of all parameters, 20% of the athletes indicated average intensity of complaints in terms of 2 parameters, 52% of the respondents did not experience any psychosomatic problems.

Despite the fact that the results of the evaluation of the psychosomatic symptoms in the EG2 were lower, the statistical differences between the EG1 and EG2 showed that the differences between the two samples were insignificant in terms of this parameter (empirical value U = 0.217). Consequently, the athletes have somatic symptoms irrespective of the actual competitive activity, but more somatic symptoms are observed in the EG1. The obtained results can be easily interpreted using a complex analysis of such factors as specifics of the boxers’ competitive activity and skill levels of the study subjects. The fact that all respondents had at least 3 years of sports experience and sports categories suggests that they have mastered to conceal the external manifestations of their emotions and, despite emotional excitement, control their actions, otherwise they would not be able to achieve success in boxing matches. As a result, stress that invariably accompanies their sports activity can compensate for the autonomic shifts mentioned by the respondents. And since stress load was found to be higher in the EG1, it is more difficult for these athletes to recover from stress compared to those of the EG2, as demonstrated by their responses.

Therefore, the data obtained indirectly confirm the opinion of a number of authors that "unstable results demonstrated by the athletes are a direct consequence of their emotional state during competitions... Any attempt to hide this mental state under the guise of fake self-confidence does not relieve them of internal anxiety and useless indeed" [8]. And this suggests that it is still relevant and of practical importance to study the factors affecting the psycho-emotional state of an athlete.

Conclusions. It is uncontroversial that any athlete, irrespective of his/her qualification, sports experience and skill level, is not a passive object whose mental state simply indicates the group effect of the external factors. Being the subject of own sports activity, each athlete reacts to an emerging situation in his own way and tries to resist the possible negative effects of external factors to the best of his abilities, ideally - to change the quality of this impact by transforming a disorganizing element into a mobilizing one. And our task is to help such athletes, whose extreme life with constant trainings, travels and competitions is full of stress. That is why researchers and practitioners have a persistent interest in personality properties that provide effective stress tolerance in sports, to the preconditions for stress tolerance, its correlation with athletes’ performance in competitions. In this regard, the next stage of our study was to analyze the specifics of the athletes’ motivational sphere, which many authors consider the key to understanding of the psycho-emotional state of any person.



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Objective of the study was to obtain psychosomatic status test rates under stresses typical for modern boxing sport. Subject to the study were 30 boxers split up into Experimental Group 1 (EG1, n=15) of those qualifying for the seasonal ranking competitions; and Experimental Group 2 (EG2, n=15) composed of the boxers who failed to qualify for the seasonal ranking events. The study was designed to match both groups by the stress tolerance and psychosomatic performance rates, with the Holmes-Rahe Stress and Social Readjustment Rating Scale and the Giessen Complaint Questionnaire applied for the study purposes. The study found both of the groups, irrespective of their actual involvement in the competitive process, being exposed to the external uncertainty related stressors and facing the associating somatic problems. The boxers qualified for the top-ranking competitions, however, were tested to be more exposed to the stressors compensated by the relevant autonomic system disorders and associated with a variety of stress-coping problems.